Student Parent Success Initiative
Meeting the demands of an evolving economy requires a skilled workforce that is adequately prepared to fill in-demand jobs. Earning a postsecondary credential is, therefore, more important than ever for families to achieve economic security and mobility. For the roughly four million college students who are parents of children under 18—70 percent of whom are mothers—earning a degree or certificate is a pathway to a better life for themselves and their families. These student parents, however, are often overlooked on college campuses and in the broader system of higher education, and lack access to the supports, such as affordable, high-quality child care, that they need to successfully graduate.
IWPR’s Student Parent Success Initiative conducts research and policy analysis, provides technical expertise and assistance, and communicates its research and builds partnerships to lift up the voices of students with children and increase equity in higher education for student parents and other underserved student populations.
This briefing paper outlines how state and federal
policymakers can center the immediate and longerterm needs of student parents in policy responses to the pandemic, so that they are able to safeguard their families’ economic well-being and continue along their pathway to college attainment.
Greater investments in helping single mothers graduate college would benefit their families, their communities, and society as a whole.
Investments in the postsecondary success of parents with young children can increase attainment of credentials leading to good jobs, bring children the benefits of high-quality learning environments, promote later college-going among children, and improve family economic security across generations.
Child Care Support for Student Parents in Community College Is Crucial for Success, but Supply and Funding Are Inadequate
Of the over 6 million students earning college credit at community colleges, 1.7 million (27 percent) are parents. Of those, about 1 million (16 percent) are single parents, more than twice the proportion at 4-year institutions. Three-quarters of single parents in college are women.
Resilient and Reaching for More: Challenges and Benefits of Higher Education for Welfare Participants and Their Children
This report details the inspiration, struggles, and perseverance of those pursuing a college degree while receiving welfare in California and the benefits that education brings them and their children.